A Guide on Everything you need to know about Vitamin C Benefits
Of all the vitamins and minerals, vitamin C is the one most of us know something about. We all understand at least some of the importance of vitamin C. Vitamin C benefits are perhaps the most well-known of all the vitamins.
But there is more to vitamin C benefits than the simple immunity boost that many of us understand. While getting extra vitamin C during the cold months to protect against colds and flu is a common practice, vitamin C benefits are more far-reaching than immunity.
We also tend to focus on citrus fruits when it comes to good dietary sources of vitamins C. But there are many other sources of vitamin C beyond the delicious glass of orange juice. To get all the vitamin C benefits, you have a range of options that many people do not consider.
What is vitamin C? How does vitamin C function in the body? What are the many vitamin C benefits? And how do you get all the vitamin C you need to stay healthy? This is guide will give you the information you need to understand vitamin C benefits.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is known scientifically as ascorbic acid. Vitamin C plays a vital role in the formation of blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. Vitamin C also plays a central role in the body’s healing process.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant. It helps protect cells against damage from free radicals like tobacco smoke and even radiation. Free radicals cause heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Getting enough vitamin C helps prevent these deadly diseases.
Since our bodies cannot produce vitamin C, we need to get it from dietary sources or from a supplement. You can get enough vitamin C from your diet. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and spinach. There are also numerous forms of vitamin C supplements.
Vitamin C deficiency is characterized by anemia, bleeding gums, bruising, and poor wound healing (this is also known as scurvy).
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90 mg for adult men and 75 mg for adult women.
The function of Vitamin C in your body
Vitamin C plays an integral part in the formation and maintenance of blood vessels, cartilage, muscles, and collagen in bones. Vitamin C is involved in the body's natural healing processes.
Vitamin C is also a natural and powerful antioxidant. These compounds protect the cells and other parts of the body from the damage caused by the oxidative stress that free radicals produced. Free radicals are linked to a variety of cancers, and healthy amounts of vitamin C can combat cancer.
Our bodies do not produce vitamin C. For this reason, we must get vitamin C from dietary sources or from some kind of vitamin C supplement. Vitamin C is found in sufficient quantities in foods like citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and spinach. There are a plethora of vitamin C supplements available in almost any grocery or drug store.
Vitamin C Benefits
There is a vast array of vitamin C benefits. While the boost to immunity that is associated with vitamin C is well-known and scientifically accurate, there is much more to the benefits of vitamin C.
Reduces your risk of chronic disease
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C work to reduce or prevent inflammation. Many chronic illnesses like arthritis are the result of chronic inflammation.
One cause of inflammation is the presence of free radicals in the body. Free radicals come from the breakdown of some foods and from toxins that get introduced to the body through things like tobacco smoke. When free radicals accumulate in the body, they lead to what is called oxidative stress, and this causes unhealthy inflammation. Vitamin C binds with free radicals and helps eliminate them.
Research shows that consuming vitamin C increases blood antioxidant levels by as much as 30 percent. This helps the body fight inflammation and the chronic diseases that can come from inflammation.
Helps manage high blood pressure
It is estimated that roughly a third of Americans live with high blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major cause of heart disease and the leading cause of death around the world.
Vitamin C can help lower blood pressure even for people who do not have high blood pressure. Studies show that vitamin C can help relax blood vessels and this can lower blood pressure.
Reduces the risk of heart disease
There are several factors that lead to common forms of heart disease. These include high blood pressure, high triglyceride or bad cholesterol levels, and low good cholesterol levels. Vitamin C can help reduce the risk of these problems.
In a study that tracked nearly 300,000 participants over 10 years, researchers found that those who took a vitamin C supplement of at least 700 mg every day had a 25 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who did not take vitamin C supplements. Further studies that tracked the effects of eating vitamin C-rich foods also found a substantially lower risk of heart disease.
Further research that focused on the effects of vitamin C on the problem of high triglyceride levels found that 500 mg of vitamin C per day can lower triglycerides to healthy levels.
Can lower levels of uric acid in the blood
A gout is a form of arthritis that happens when too much uric acid builds up in the blood. When there is an excess of uric acid, which is a waste product, it can form crystals that settle into the joints. This leads to the painful swelling condition known as gout. Gout affects about 4 percent of Americans.
Recent studies have found that vitamin C can reduce levels of uric acid in the blood. One study, in particular, found that taking vitamin C supplements lowered uric acid levels in men who suffered from gout.
In another study, researchers tracked almost 50,000 men for over 20 years who suffered from gout. This study found that men who took a vitamin C supplement had a 44 percent lower risk of gout.
Helps prevent iron deficiency
Among the many roles vitamin C plays in the body, one is to assist other nutrients in helping your body function properly. Vitamin C is essential in assisting iron in the making of red blood cells and transporting oxygen in the bloodstream.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from your diet. It also helps convert iron that is not properly absorbed into usable iron. For example, some plant-based iron can be difficult for your body to absorb.
These functions of vitamin C are especially helpful for vegetarians since they get their iron from plant-based sources.
Studies have shown that an iron supplement of 100 mg can even help fight anemia in children.
The main reason people take vitamin C supplements is to boost immunity. Vitamin C helps with the production of white blood cells called lymphocytes and phagocytes. These are the white blood cells that fight infections in your body.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C also help protect these white blood cells from damage from free radicals. This provides a double benefit to your immune system.
Finally, vitamin C is immediately transported to your skin to protect against external damage. Thus, vitamin C provides three layers of protection against infection and illness.
Helps memory and cognition as we age
One of the debilitating problems that come as we age is dementia. More than 35 million people are affected by dementia worldwide. The loss of memory and the ability to think clearly that characterize dementia can be debilitating.
The presence of uninhibited free radicals is the major cause of oxidative stress that can lead to dementia. Oxidative stress cause inflammation in the brain, spine, and nerves and this increases the risk of developing dementia.
Since vitamin C is such a powerful antioxidant, it is now believed that the presence of vitamin C can reduce the oxidative stress that leads to dementia. What is more, recent research has found a link between low levels of vitamin C and the onset of dementia.
Following these findings, researchers have found that taking vitamin C supplements helps protect thinking and memory in older adults and may prevent the onset of dementia.
Sources of Vitamin C
As most of us know, citrus fruits are some of the best sources of vitamin C. These fruits naturally contain large concentrations of vitamin C in their juice, pulp, and skin.
Other great sources of vitamin C include tomatoes, tomato juice, and potatoes. These are staples of the American diet. Broccoli, red and green peppers, kiwi, strawberries, Brussel sprouts, and potatoes are all high in vitamin C.
Cooking can often reduce the vitamin C levels in many foods since the heat tends to destroy ascorbic acid. Freezing and long-term storage can also reduce vitamin C content. The good news is that many of the fruits and vegetables listed above are most often consumed raw. Still, all of these foods remain great sources of vitamin C whether they are eaten cooked or raw. Consuming five varied servings of fruits and vegetables a day can provide more than 200 mg of vitamin C.
Effects Deficiency of Vitamin C in your body
We commonly know vitamin C deficiency as scurvy. Vitamin C deficiency causes anemia, debility, exhaustion, and spontaneous bleeding. The bleeding gums common to vitamin C deficiency will lead to tooth loss. If left untreated, vitamin C deficiency can be fatal.
Vitamin C recommended dosage
The recommended daily dosage of vitamin C changes according to age, gender, and other factors. Here is the breakdown:
Children 1-3: 15 mg
Children 4-8: 25mg
Adolescents 9-13: 45 mg
Teens 14-18: 65-75 mg
Adult women: 75 mg
Adult men: 90 mg
Pregnant women (19 and older): 85 mg
Breastfeeding women (19 and older): 120 mg
Vitamin C side effects
While vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an essential nutrient, it's possible to have too much of it. If you follow the recommended daily allowance guidelines you should have no problems. But too much vitamin C can lead to the following issues:
- Abdominal cramps
Remember, for most people, a healthy diet provides an adequate amount of vitamin C.
Vitamin C FAQS
What is Vitamin C? Vitamin C is known scientifically as ascorbic acid. Vitamin C plays a vital role in the formation of blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. Vitamin C also plays a central role in the body’s healing process.
What are the best sources of vitamin C? Vitamin C is found in sufficient quantities in foods like citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and spinach. There are a plethora of vitamin C supplements available in almost any grocery or drug store.
What are some of the health benefits of vitamin C? Vitamin C boosts the immune system, can help fight chronic diseases like cancer, helps control and reduce blood pressure, reduces your risk of heart disease, and can even help protect against the onset of dementia and cognitive decline.
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